Off Base
Russian Undressing

June 14, 2010, 4:25 p.m. Call it voodoo medicine, weird science, or the collapse of western civilization as we know it. Two baseball owners, then working as a husband and wife team, through back channels and without government sanction, sought out and procured the services of a rogue Russian physicist to enhance the performance of its 25, uh, agents.

Los Angeles Times baseball writer slash guru, Bill Shaikin, broke the story last week, and in so doing enhanced his heroic, almost cult-like status in the city. And if I don't get the Pulitzer for this fine follow-up, Shaikin no doubt will.

The baseball world reacted with the fairly obvious fury of ridicule. There's been some apt analysis, perhaps summed up best by another LAT man, Dodger blogger Steve Dilbeck, and universally with will all manner of jokes, pokes and shots to the first couple's solar plexus.

And I'm thinking, the whole thing sounds like an episode of the X-Files. Not a representative X-Files, either. More like one of the movies.

You've got Jan Rubes as the Russian scientist, Nicholas Lea reprising his Krycek role, with real-life go-between Barry Cohen as his cover. The McCourts are played by, oh, I don't know, Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl? No, wait; Steve Carrel and Tina Fey.

There's international intrigue, motives both seen and unseen, and a mysterious force that works in real time, through snow-capped mountain ranges and across great distances.

Scully thinks the Russians are frauds or spies, or frauds and spies, Mulder believes, but it doesn't really matter because there's been a crime committed – the hijacking of a metropolis of innocents and a thing most sacred to its culture: Dodger baseball.

But look, besides the silliness above, what I take out of it is, first, since there's been no denial, the story must be true. Not that it couldn't be true even with a denial, but without one, it's absolute fact.

Next, Shaikin's source was either a disgruntled former Dodger employee, a disgruntled current employee, or a lawyer working on the divorce case. I'm guessing the latter, because there's huge money at stake there.

And finally, no past strangeness from the owner(s) matters a lick if the Dodgers win the World Series. A third place finish in the West, or even another NLCS flameout, and it's "Katie bar the door," as our beloved Don Drysdale would say.

But – and it's a big butt, we're talking Bill Madlock's butt here – acquire Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt, really and truly show you want a championship and are willing to do what at least one team per season does to get one, and become a savior in Los Angeles. Go from scorned to celebrated within minutes.

Essentially, win and story goes away. Make excuses while sitting on your hands, and Russian sorcery becomes a bigger part of the bio. Neither McCourt will be able to stick as owner long-term. I've said all along that I believe the club will be sold because of the divorce, and I haven't deviated an inch from the position. Energy forces and beams of light only make it that much more probable a consequence…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Basic stuff: Rock smashes scissors, scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock (although not in Seinfeld), and the Angels beat the Dodgers.

Beat the living crap out of them, is what they do. Smack them around, embarrass them silly, make them want to crawl into a little ball and go to sleep. Or is that just me?

What an ass kicking that was. Chad Billingsley looked like a man pitching with ants in his pants on Friday, John Ely and Carlos Monasterios were off to different degrees Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and the team didn't hit with runners in scoring position.

It's not the end of the world, and they're a hell of a lot better off than the Lakers right now. There's not much new or all that worrisome to take out of the weekend, other than it's one more example of the Angels being better, head to head, in the spring. And that George Sherrill stinks.

It's got to be deflating for the club to play their best baseball with Sherrill on the shelf, only to have him he pick up where he left off. I imagine the Dodgers are looking to trade Sherrill, rather than just releasing him and eating his contract.

Maybe he goes in an Oswalt deal, as a way of having Houston taking on some small piece of salary. And perhaps the Astros get lucky, correct a flaw or two, and flip him someplace else. Just a thought…

A Little Remodeling: Did you see Andre Ethier going absolutely ape-wire on the bat rack Saturday night? I mean, wow.

Perhaps Joe Torre had a different take behind closed doors, but according to Ken Gurnick of, Joe said this: "It's just something that goes on when it means a lot to you. The only thing I ever say is that if you hurt yourself, that's a problem because the rest of the team suffers. I don't think it's done for show. I'd have a bigger problem with that. If it's sincere, I'm not going to take away from how much the game means to somebody. I don't think it embarrasses the organization. The organization should be proud of a guy that cares so much about helping the team win."

Actually, no. It embarrasses Andre primarily, but with that inane statement, Torre brought the organization into the picture. Ethier's display was thoroughly unprofessional, and bordered on the disturbing.

Same kind of double standard that goes on in baseball from time to time, where the star player is allowed his transgressions, and it's shrugged off as nothing. Not so with the likes of Carlos Perez, if you recall.

Ethier's lucky the media has chosen not to do him what they did to Perez, by showing the video over and over again. He won't be so lucky if there's another episode like the other night. Better Ethier had a healthy and normal amount of self control, but at the very least, he needs to keep this kind of thing well beyond view of the cameras. And that really is at the very least.

At least one good-sized splinter could be seen flying out of the frame, and it very well could have injured Ethier or someone else. Does the name Steve Yeager mean anything to you?

Media Savvy: Congratulations are in order. Former big leaguer and current writer Doug Glanville has a new book out. He's an interesting guy and a great writer. Get "The Game from Where I Stand" at Doug's personal site,

And this from Orange County Register Travel Editor and founding IBWAA member, Gary Warner, sent to me direct from Ireland…

On a Personal Note: I might have some new job news to announce next week, so please stay tuned for that…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….

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